In the west we have become all too familiar with news reports involving radical Muslim extremists. Reports where Muslims are the protagonists. It can be difficult to be impartial and non-judgmental. Sadly many people have now pigeon-holed Islamists as nothing more than trouble causing terrorists. As always that may be true of a minority of Muslims.
Religion is often at the heart of dissent but what about Muslims being victimised? Conflict between different factions of Islam such as Sharia and Sunni Muslims is well documented but what about problems from other religions?
I do not know about you, but when I think of Buddhist leaders my mind's eye creates an image of orange robes, spirituality, peace and a gentle religion. In Burma that is far from the truth.
Burma has a budding anti-Muslim movement. Oo Wi Ma La, a head Buddhist monk, recently ordered a shipment of stickers emblazoned with 969, the anti-Muslim logo in Burma. Stickers with logos though is the least of Muslims worries in Burma. It is probably fair to say that the Buddhists hate the muslims.
Violent action has been taken. Buddhists use the need for survival as justification. They cite countries such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Malaysia where Buddists and their faith have died a death and Islam is the new religion.
969 is a number of significance to Buddhists but some accuse them of being a neo-nazi group. The production of 969 emblazoned stickers began a year ago following a bloody confrontation between Buddhists and Muslims. Muslims are in the minority in Burma and Buddhist monks are prepared to fight brutally to maintain the status quo.
The E.U. are set to meet and decide on the fate of Burma, as far as sanctions go. Has Burma done enough to help democracy to warrant a lifting of sanctions? The E.U. will announce its verdict in due course. However, the authorities in Burma have done nothing to help Muslims under attack.
Video footage on YouTube shows how bad the situation is. Police standing by whilst Muslims are attacked. "Buddhist mobs wielding sticks and swords attack Muslims in Meikhtila – where last month more than 40 people were killed and 12,000 displaced" reports The Guardian. One man ends up in flames in the middle of a crowd ."Pour water on him," a man in the crowd commands. "Let him die," shouts another. "No water for him."
The footage was filmed by police. In it however the police and Buddhists monks are shown violently abusing Muslims. The Guardian report continues, "The new video footage also corroborates claims by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that security forces in Rakhine state, western Burma, failed to protect ethnic Rohingya Muslims in June and October last year, when 200 were killed and more than 100,000 forced to flee after inter-communal violence spread through the region.
"While the state security forces in some instances intervened to prevent violence and protect fleeing Muslims, more frequently they stood aside during attacks or directly supported the assailants, committing killings and other abuses," said an HRW report released on Monday."
Time for the E.U. sanctions to be lifted? Are you kidding me?
CNN Rights groups accuse Myanmar of ethnic cleansing